Running Diary: Eagles Practice Observations


Here’s what we saw during today’s Eagles practice session.

12:06 – Before we get started, a couple housekeeping notes from yesterday. A couple people wondered why I always take videos of the same drills. The Eagles have rules that only a certain portion of practice can be taped. In addition, we are only allowed to stand on one side of the field. Considering I am shooting with the iPhone, I have no chance of recording the defensive linemen on the opposite side of the field.

But as always, I’m open to suggestions and feedback going forward on what you’d like to see.

Today we get started with the running backs who are running routes with the quarterbacks:

And now the running backs using those blue belts we’ve discussed previously:

You may notice LeSean McCoy is wearing pants even though there is a heat advisory today. My guess is he realizes Intern Josh is a trend-setter and is following his lead.

12:09 – For the first time, I notice there’s a door underneath the bleachers that leads to a room. What’s in there? Maybe it just houses equipment, water coolers, etc. Or perhaps it’s a secret office where Chip Kelly goes when he gets tired of people annoying him. Air condition, a futon, a flat-screen, who knows? Maybe even a pinball machine or an old NBA Jam arcade game. We’ll try to explore this mystery further during training camp.

12:13 – QBs throw the “smoke” to wide receivers. Explained by Chris Brown:

This is a one-step hitch by the receiver where he simply turns his numbers back to the quarterback. For everyone else, the play is a run, but if the defense gives that receiver an excessive cushion — and the flat defender is located inside the box looking for the run — the quarterback simply throws it to wide receiver.

It’s worth noting that the quarterbacks are taking snaps under center during this drill.

Meanwhile, a couple offensive linemen hustle to and from the port-a-potty during practice. It’s an aqua structure tucked in the corner of the practice fields. But for the first time today, I notice that this is not your average port-a-potty; it has added depth. It’s basically like two normal port-a-potties put together. Perhaps to add some comfort for the massive men who are going to be using it?

We now have our second angle that needs exploring in the coming months. Someone get Don Smolenski on the phone.

12:28 – The mysterious voice over the loud-speaker announces it’s time for the “formations” period. This is when the offense motions, runs routes, etc. and the defense covers, but no pass is thrown.

On one play, Earl Wolff and Brandon Boykin collide. Wolff goes to the ground, but gets back up. I’m guessing Kelly will keep that route combination in the arsenal.

12:33 – Special teams time. Boykin can make a case for being one of the best gunners in the league. But Kelly’s comment today about Nolan Carroll II was interesting.

“He’s an outstanding special teams player, been one of the top gunners in the league,” Kelly said. “And obviously improvement in special teams was a big thing for us.”

Between those two and Donnie Jones, the Eagles’ punt coverage team should be in good shape.

12:43 – In case you’re wondering, the Eagles are still using the fly-swatters to simulate defensive linemen at practice. Today, for the first time, a QB hits one: It’s Nick Foles. This is your meaningless practice note of the day. Foles had just two passes batted at the line of scrimmage all last season, according to Pro Football Focus.

Later during the team drill, Jordan Matthews streaks down the middle of the field and makes a nice catch on a deep ball from Foles in between Connor Barwin and Nate Allen.

Matt Barkley, meanwhile, is intercepted by Curtis Marsh on a deep out.

I thought this Tweet from Adam Caplan was interesting:

Can’t say I really disagree.

12:52 – One thing I’ve noticed during these practices: No fights or anything even close to a scuffle (during the sessions open to the media, at least).

1:02 – During the special-teams portion of practice, I see a guy taking a knee on the sideline. He could be a visiting coach or a guest of someone in the organization. But this scene would not have played out when Andy Reid was the head coach. Those not associated with the team were prohibited from sitting, taking a knee or leaning against a wall (media included). You also were not allowed to drink anything (coffee, water, etc.) while watching practice.

Kelly doesn’t seem to care what anyone not wearing an Eagles jersey is doing. Different philosophies for different coaches.

1:12 – It’s 7-on-7 time in the red zone. Boykin makes his presence felt, breaking up a Foles pass on first down. Then on third down, he forces an incompletion on a crosser to Jeremy Maclin, and the defense wins the drill.

When the second team gets up, inside linebacker Jason Phillips breaks up a Mark Sanchez pass. But Sanchez bounces back with a completion on a crosser to Matthews for a touchdown.

Barkley dumps it off to Chris Polk a couple times and then fires incomplete to B.J. Cunningham. On his final throw of the series, he finds Josh Huff, who comes down with a great catch in between defenders on an out-breaking route for the touchdown.

With the ones back up, Foles finds Brad Smith on a crossing route for a score. Sanchez, meanwhile, completes three straight to Matthews (his favorite target all spring), including a touchdown.

1:24 – Situational football. During 11-on-11s, the offense starts out on second down. Foles throws a jump-ball to Smith, but Boykin breaks it up. He had a very active practice. Marsh, meanwhile, breaks up a Barkley pass intended for Quron Pratt.

When the ones get back up, Foles looks deep for Maclin on the go-route down the right sideline. It’s a beautiful throw, but Maclin can’t hang on. Tough to see from my angle whether a defender got a hand on it.

Barkley makes perhaps his best throw of the spring, fitting the ball into a tight window on an in-breaking route to Cunningham. He had to squeeze it in between two defenders, and did.

The ones get another shot, and Malcolm Jenkins breaks up a Foles pass on a crossing route intended for Damaris Johnson.

1:39 – Foles has been looking at Brad Smith a lot today. He finds him here on a deep crosser. I still expect Matthews to take over that first-team slot job, but Smith has a good shot of making the team.

Ifeanyi Momah can’t hang on to a high pass from Sanchez.

1:45 – Something’s cooking in the NovaCare Complex. Up in the bleachers, the smell of garlic takes over. I suddenly remember all I’ve got to eat is a Mojo bar. Don’t get me wrong. Those are delicious. But I need a little more substance.

1:47 – That’s a wrap. One more practice session on Wednesday, and then the players get to do whatever they want until the start of training camp.

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  • peteike

    Barkley gets a break on a tight forced throw, as for every other sentence with his name, not so great. 3rd string, oh well, hes still learning how to harness all that power with his revamped shoulder. Are Mojo bars really delicious? Ill have to try one. Ill believe our ST are good when I see it, esp when were the only team tackling a kick returner.

  • Jerry Pomroy

    So what was Reid looking to accomplish with the restrictions to non-Eagles personnel? No leaning, kneeling or drinking? Seems a bit controlling & over the top considering these OTAs are held in warmer weather.

    • PhillySean

      Yeah, pretty controlling for a guy that can’t keep track of the clock on game day.

    • peteike

      if it was post super bowl, totally understandable ha

    • JosephR2225

      But players eating lunch in their cars was okay.

    • mksp

      What a strange anecdote that was.

    • cliff henny

      honest answer…my guess is Reid thought he had to be in total control like a dictator. prove to the guys on the field he weilded so much power, he could control people that have very little to do with anything.

    • myeaglescantwin

      Reid was trying to control everything. His was of thinking was so superior to anyone in the country.
      His arrogance and need to control are what lead to his downfall.

      No one man should have all the power.

  • JosephR2225

    Andy Reid: Qualifications?

    Sheil: [chewing gum] Blogger for Philly Magazine… Birds 24/7…

    Andy: Wait a moment. What have you got in your mouth?

    Sheil: [stops chewing] Nuff’m.

    Andy: “Nuff’m”, eh? Marty!

    Mornhinweg: [searches the man’s mouth] Gum!

    Andy: Chewing gum on the sideline, eh? I hope you brought enough for everybody.

    Sheil: [panicked] I didn’t know there was going to be so many!

    [Andy shoots Sheil]

    Intern Josh: [hidden behind the bleachers] Boy, is he strict!

    • Jerry Pomroy

      No, Josh runs and hides in the hidden room under the bleachers to find a spa where he’s treated to an umbrella drink and a massage.

    • willissez

      Really interesting when you consider what was going on at AR’s house right under his nose

      • uncle Johnny

        Thats a pretty lame call, bringing his family into it.

        • willissez

          Not trying to be a jerk, I just wish he would’ve paid attention to the more important things. Who gives a crap if a reporter kneels on the field?

    • Formidable

      C’mon people. Any Blazing Saddles reference gets a thumbs up. Would be two if it was Chip instead of Andy!!! As we know he is far and away more strict than Andy “Just wear black baggy shorts to OTAs and everything else falls into place” Reid ever tried to be (except with George Hegamin).

  • Jerry Pomroy

    I think Sanchez is actually hurting himself falling in love with Matthews as a target. If he ever gets in a game the defense could literally load up on Matthews & Shady and call it a day.

    • theycallmerob

      DCs have been loading up on Matthews for 2 years now in college, and Shady still had his best year when we all knew he was getting the ball. Something tells me those 2, combined with Kelly, will be able to make plays.

      • Jerry Pomroy

        I know, I was being facetious. Guess my issue is that I want to see Foles & Matthews getting to know one another and building a rapport more so than Foles & Brad Smith or Sanchez & Matthews.

    • dislikedisqus

      Sanchez has a large body of work opponents can evaluate for flaws. I don’ t think a week of OTAs is going to change very much.

  • DirtyWaters

    I was hoping the days of safeties colliding ended with Chung’s departure.

    • OldDocRoss

      At least he only bumped into a fellow DB implying he may have been in vaguely the right area of the field. Chung would take out Safeties, OLBs, DEs, cameramen, unsuspecting fans, small children……..

      • Andy124

        Chung knocked a beer out of my hand while trying to tackle Alfred Morris.

  • Token

    Barkley blows. Wonder how many years we will tote him around on the roster just some Howie can save some face?

  • dislikedisqus

    Jason Phillips breaks up a Mark Sanchez pass! This OTA report is now complete.

  • Cliff Ainley

    Rail agianst me all you want, Sheil Kapadia is the most overrated journalist in Philly sports. Half of his “reportage” is silly anecdotes that are cringe worthy.

    • Philip Soloninka

      Well, the “overrated” journalist (and this site) consistently churns out interesting and informative articles (with video/All-22) of OTAs/EVERYTHING. Not much going on with the team at the moment, so he has to add in those “silly anecdotes” which are harmless. It isn’t like he went full Simmons and re hashed the plot to Karate Kid when describing Carey Spear’s kickoff duties.

      You can hate the Philly media all you want, but don’t be an idiot and just lump in Birds 24/7 with the other lazy writers in town.

    • dislikedisqus

      Ironically, your comments have even less substance.

    • PhillySean

      I don’t know what set of circumstances caused you to read material that you dislike at 5AM, but I hope the situation improves.

    • myeaglescantwin

      Sheil and McMannus bring nothing but facts. Needs and actions. No speculation, no interpretation. they can be a bit nerdy at times, but that’s perfectly acceptable given the level of absolute crap there is on other sites and media outlets.

  • Cliff Ainley

    That been said, it is still the best reporting in Philly…which probaly is the basis of my argument: PHILLY MEDIA BLOWS!

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  • Brent E. Sulecki

    Sheil. any insight you can give about certain players of interest for me that be great. im talking about the guys that may surprise and make the team I have a few after reading articles and haven’t heard much about. Boone and Benn to start with at WR. that’s #19 and #17. always like to hear more about Burton if hes getting there as a guy down the road who can take Casey spot as that H back.Kruger, The army ranger. and more Bamiro. also Josey at Rb.

  • HowieGambleChipsAllDay

    Barkley dumps it off a couple of times………there is no combination of words I fear more in the entire lexicon.